They started with several data points that showed that social media is growing at multiple levels.
Complexity Thinking (Davis & Sumara, 2006) is the theoretical framework they used – they think that most work on social media doesn’t think deeply enough about what is so engaging about the connectedness of social media.
They have two studies in one paper.
Student use of social media included Facebook, videos (i.e. YouTube), online forums (i.e. Yahoo Answers), Google, and Wikipedia – in that order of frequency. Students use Facebook and chat clients to ask their face to face friends at school about assignments. High school students looked online for “the answer”; whereas postsecondary students were looking for resources as references for their higher level thinking assignments. The students said that when teachers used social media, they didn’t use it in a way that allowed for collaboration among the students.
The other study was a case study surveying 27% of the staff at a school district in British Columbia looking at teachers knowledge, beliefs, and learning from a workshop on social media – finding that teachers need support to use social media appropriately in the classroom and how to work with the school policies and provincial laws. SD10 is following the Kent County UK model for teaching social media, and for further study, Hengstler will research further to see how that progresses and what can be learned from it.
In the discussion afterwards, the practitioner in the room started a conversation on how critical it is to create a social contract and understanding for how to behave online in social media, just like there is a social contract of how to behave in a classroom. Scaffolding is critical to help students learn how to behave well on social media.
My take away from the Friday set of sessions at AERA 2012 is that it’s so critical to scaffold, plan, and support learning to use technology in transformative ways. Otherwise, you have the same types of “following directions” or low level thinking activities that are common in schools anyway. The distribution graphs with 1-10% of high level activity presented in multiple sessions was thought provoking. What does it take to bring high level critical thinking and collaboration to all students?